Need for Speed and EA’s IPs over the last few years have pretty much gone downhill. A long hill, filled with employees who have never played a video game and spikes of hatred at the bottom, impaling today’s gamers. I love new ideas but some things don’t mix. Pretty much after Carbon, the series lost direction. Rule number one of racing games, you are not allowed out of the car. The game engine wasn’t built for it in the first place, but when you do get out, the game starts to spread itself too thin. Over thinking a racing game is a stupid mistake, and after refining the series for years, I thought EA made all the mistakes it could. Pro Street took out the streets, most of the customization, an opportunity to move your old cars to new games a la Pokémon, and any hope EA could pull the series back from swerving into a GTA style group of old ladies…the ones with lots of blood.
Hot Pursuit was a step in the right direction, and if they’d let us do some vinyl work, I would have been extremely pleased with the game. But Shift, World, and all the other Forza bullshit spewing from Electronic Arts’ outbox has put an end to my hope, it’s too mainstream and boring. But we aren’t here to talk about that, we are here to talk about a game they did get right, and that game is Need for Speed Most Wanted.
Hot Pursuit 3 added fun police-y mechanics, but if you tried to steer more of a 20 degree turn you were SOL. Need for Speed Underground came along, added just the right amount of thug but lacked story and free roam. Really, the ending pissed me off about as much as a Pokémon save file corrupting while standing in front of Lance for the first time. Underground 2 came along, added so much balla in the mix, Chamillionaire got jealous about my rims and I loved it. An amazing amount of customization, a dynamo, paint jobs, rims, mufflers, hydraulics you name it you could pimp that ride out. And you could free roam, pick sponsors, drift and challenge other racers for more bank. Refine Underground 2 into the new gen with even more options and it would sell like hotcakes laced with LSD.
Most Wanted brought it back a little, tuned down a bit. But in exchange it offered cops, and their little paper Crown Vics. God bless the developers. Beat the story mode and rac
k up enough bounty to get NATO knocking on your garage door, not to mention the hardass Sgt. Cross. Me and a close friend had contests to see who could cause the most damage and for the longest period of time. The best we ever got was 59 minutes because the disc kept freezing every time we screwed the cops over for more than an hour without getting busted. The AI isn’t brilliant, mostly they’ll just swarm you when you’re slow and follow when you’re speeding, but damn if you don’t get stuck in the stupidest places. There are challenges but nothing so brutal.
The car selection is a bit lacking, and the controls are a tad too tight. But overall it’s a very fun game if you like cars, and has some nice destruction effects. Not on par with Burnout’s gosh no, but satisfying. The story in itself is more interesting than most racing games, it actually gives you motivation, but as far as racing games go, you could do a lot worse than this one. It’s plentiful in used game shops unless you look for the black edition, but go on out and give it a shot if you’re a car fan. Blow through a few roadblocks, and get your ride back.